Losing essential documents or worse yet luggage can turn a dream vacation into a nightmare. Follow Pulse’s essential travel tips for happy travels.
Create a “personal bag”
Along with a carry-on, one personal bag is allowed on board a flight. Consider it an emergency travel kit. Kari Cruz, an independent travel expert that specializes in bespoke-style-travel, recommends using the luggage to store a pen, protein bar, binder clips, earplugs and extra under garments. Binder clips can easily act as a phone stand or a cap for razors. “Toss in earplugs to mute the sound of crying babies on the plane and the street or hotel noise if you plan on staying in a big city,” Cruz said. And those spare undies will be essential in the event of lost luggage.
Consider curbside check-in
Curbside check-in is becoming increasingly popular with airlines and airports throughout the world because of its convenience for passengers—safely handing over luggage versus dragging it around. “Another benefit of using this option is that you are confirming you have arrived at the airport in time for your flight and are checking in with a member of staff as opposed to a computer system,” said Rachel Tabbouche, travel expert and founder of vacation line Undercover Waterwear.
Smartphones can be used for more than entertainment on a long flight—airlines are making it easier than ever to keep tabs on checked baggage. “Delta now offers an online luggage tracking app. If you’re traveling on a different airline, there are several similar options on the market,” Tabbouche said.
Expedite coming and going
TSA Pre and Global Entry are two government programs that ease the process for “trusted travelers.” TSA Pre grants access to shorter security lines (no removing shoes, laptops, belts or liquids before the scans). And Global Entry allows for clearing customs through self-administered kiosks on the way into the U.S. The two are mutually exclusive—each requires an online application, in-person interview and fee—but the stress and time savings are priceless. Check the TSA Pre and Global Entry websites for specifics.
Roughly 90 percent of travelers tote dark colored suitcases. A simple solution is to tie a brightly colored ribbon to distinguish the bag or invest in a creative luggage tag or neon handle grip. “More options include having one of your favorite personal photos converted to a luggage tag or buying a [standout] suitcase protector,” Tabbouche said.
Know the rules
Figuring out airlines’ baggage-fee policies is key to reducing travel-related stress, Tabbouche said. While most airlines permit travelers to check at least one bag on international flights, the majority of U.S. carriers charge a fee for bags checked on domestic flights. Never lock checked bags without TSA-approved locks. “If your bag is selected for random screening, agents will have to break the lock to get inside. Do not over pack your bag. Screeners will have a difficult time closing your luggage, which will only lead to wrinkles and the potential for lost articles.”